Republicans and Democrats are further apart now than ever before. Their relations seem more like do-or-die battles than political opposition. The enmity of the two parties makes bad politics because it’s virtually impossible to get anything done.
Do Republicans and Democrats live on the same planet? Actually, they live in different moral universes, says Paul Krugman in last Friday’s New York Times
The recent political brawl about extending unemployment benefits is a case in point, Krugman says. Extending unemployment benefits during a deep recession makes good economic sense. It’s one of the most effective forms of stimulus, he argues, citing the impeccable source of the Congressional Budget Office.
Many Republicans, however, believe that unemployment benefits simply reduce the incentive to go out and get a job. This is standard Republican reasoning—and it might make sense in a good economy, that is, one that has lots of job openings. In a bad economy, with few jobs available, it doesn’t make sense.
Is there a moral difference underling these differences in economic reasoning?
When Democrat Merkley pleaded with his fellow Senators to help America’s working families, many of whom need extended unemployment benefits, Republican Bunning responded with, says Krugman, an “expletive.”
I was curious about said expletive. The choice of expletive might reveal something. Merkely himself says it was “tough luck,” noting in his Huffington Post article that a cruder word was actually used.
Politico.com printed it: “Tough s—t.” This captured a dominant feeling among Republicans.
So, what do you think? Do Republicans and Democrats live in different universes?
(Note on the map above: You can enlarge this Wikipedia Commons image of U.S. Senate affiliation by clicking on the map.)